On this day in 1634, Urbain Grandier was burned to death. It must have come as a relief. He had been horribly tortured up to that point. But what do you expect from good Christians? I know, I know: Christians would tell me that the men who tortured and killed him didn’t actually have Jesus inside them and weren’t “true” Christians. But any religion that does such a bad job of instilling its moral tenets has got to be suspect. And let’s face it: modern Christians don’t do a very good job of being advertisements for God’s love.
Grandier was a Catholic priest in France. He didn’t believe that priests should be celibate. In fact, he wrote a book arguing against it. And he practiced what he preached. He was known to be a hunka hunka burning love. He apparently angered Sister Jeanne of the Angels — who seems to have fallen in love with him from afar. This led to the whole convent that she headed accusing Grandier of evil and impure acts. The church tried him and found him not guilty.
Unfortunately, Grandier had managed to really piss off Cardinal Richelieu. If that name sounds familiar, he is the main villain in The Three Musketeers. But in real life, he was much worse. After Grandier was found guilty, Richelieu just ordered another trial. But by this point, the nuns had calmed down and refused to testify against Grandier. What’s a cardinal to do? Well, they tortured Grandier for a confession. But they apparently never got one, so they just forged a confession.
But I feel a certain kinship with Urbain Grandier. I too once thought that the logic of my own personal obsessions were obvious and if only the beauty of my argument were seen, the world would agree. But I was never burned at the stake. Still, I feel certain that this is just the result of good timing. If I had lived a couple hundred years before now, I would have met a violent and painful end. But I would have provided a confession long before the torture started. I’m not a fool.